Saturday, March 08, 2008

Gauntlet 3: Walking Away

On the Television Without Pity forums, there’s a thread where posters put up motivational posters based on various shows. One running topic compares programs to drugs. After this past Wednesday, I ha an apt parallel for Real World/Road Rules Challenge: PCP. All I know is I usually wind up extremely mad, bordering on foaming at the mouth, ready to tear people in half with my bare hands.

In my rage over Gauntlet 3, which has eclipsed Battle Of The Sexes 2 as the worst season ever – no small feat with me getting fired from a recapping gig in part to increasingly negative reviews, as well as Eric Fucking Nies – I was left to examine the legacy of one Coral Smith, who looked at her team members trying to screw her over, saw a nasty bitch itching to destroy her, and said “fuck this shit” and left. Coral went into Gauntlet 3 having won only one Challenge, but she had never been eliminated from the game except when injured. She would scheme and scam, but she’d never try to run anybody over with the malicious intent as this season’s Axis Of Ass. In The Inferno, when the Real World team sought to throw a mission to shove Leah into the Inferno, Coral tried to play the mission honestly. Nine times out of ten, the subjects of barbs as jagged as her name had it coming. But when she walked away, she hurt her legacy. I am happy to note that when I logged off about 30 minutes after the episode aired, there had been only two posts negative towards Coral. The rest that I read before going to bed either praised her, ripped the Veterans, and/or declared that they were done watching the show. Since then, there has been more haters taking shots at Coral, but there’s little proof of a backlash against her,

It’s one thing for me to be an apologist for Coral, but less than twelve hours later, as I originally wrote this essay at work, I still had not changed my mind, and I don’t think I will. Yes, I did come down hard on Beth when she quit in Gauntlet 2, but I see differences between the two incidents. Beth was unquestionably the worst player on the Veterans team, but she had a captain’s position thanks to two lucky spins of the Gauntlet wheel. Beth also has rarely shown the capacity for caring the way Coral has in the past, like when she comforted Sarah following the Gauntlet Queen’s heartbreaking win over good friend (and onetime roommate of Coral) Rachel, or riding in an ambulance with Leah after a massive freak-out. Beth was a nasty shit-stirring bitch, and when she fled a Gauntlet date with Aneesa, tailed tucked between her legs, I was livid. I had to listen to Beth badmouthing people left and right, I had to watch her blow mission after mission for her teammates, and she denied me a potential bloodbath. That’s why Coral’s victory over her two weeks prior was so important for me . . . there were no disqualifications, no walking away. Good stared down evil and won.

As for Coral, she had enough. She had spoken to Evan, trying to come to grips with the prospect that he had helped throw missions. They had been partners during Fresh Meat, and they had gotten along while crushing the competition (winning the first three missions and five out of the first seven) before they both bowed out due to injuries. She found herself walking down the same round as in The Gauntlet, when Mike cast the deciding vote to send her to the Gauntlet, and she cried about how he was her homie. The difference? Even though Mike acted like a butthead throughout his times on the Challenges, even though he aspired to become a professional wrestler and get employed by scumbag supreme Vince McMahon, Mike wasn’t a total asshole. On the other hand, Evan went from being a somewhat funny guy into being one of those idiots who has to say stuff, not to mention get into a relationship with Kenny that’s more than likely sexual. Fuck it, I can speculate all I want on those two. When Coral had declared to win at all costs in the Challenges – up to and including eating babies – but she wanted to balance friendship in the process. Once again, she never schemed to underperform to hurt somebody else, even though her team had more than enough male muscle to spare. So with her back against the wall, blindfold over her eyes and a cigarette pressed between her lips, Coral elected to walk away. When Beth pulled that four seasons ago, her team celebrated. When Coral left, the Veterans still had to pick somebody to face Evelyn.

(This seems about as good a time as any to acknowledge the Challenge Rules Committee, or whomever makes up how the show works. Gone are the days where Bunim-Murray Productions could at least pretend to make things fair. You have a sizable advantage over your opponents? Fuck you, here’s a mission where combined times are measured, as opposed to averaged out. Tyrie has to leave the game to tend to his ailing girlfriend? Not only do the Rookies get a replacement in MJ, he’s enough of an upgrade to make a difference on paper. And if Coral walks off in a huff? Fuck it . . . Evelyn needs to tear into somebody, so no default win for her like Aneesa had with Beth. Honestly, I’d love to run the competition portion of this show. Let 'em fight, screw and drink, but at least I’d make things fair and interesting.)

I’ve seen indecision before in deliberations, most notably the Great James/Shane Debate from Battle of the Sexes. But I’ve never seen people look as if though they had forgotten how to wipe their own asses . . . and with Neanderthals like CT and Danny, that was a distinct possibility The only thing missing was a shot of Coral watching a live feed on the bus ride to the airport, cackling at her team’s indecision. Eventually, Casey stepped up to be the sacrificial lamb, and nearly everybody made a huge deal about how good a teammate she was. I understood Casey’s rant against Coral . . . but when she bitched about how Coral had been screwing teammates for about eighteen years (which she did, like, once) and how she should get a job, I hit the ceiling. While Coral took two Challenges off after Fresh Meat, Casey rushed to do The Duel. When was the last time Casey updated her resume? And where did she get the money for her breast enhancements? Working a 9-to-5 job, or using the $5,000 she won on Fresh Meat? Casey should shut the fuck up, like, forever.

So the Axis of Ass is still in effect, and they might use the final female Gauntlet to screw Katie, who is the biggest victim of Coral’s departure. I would not have blamed her had she grabbed onto Coral’s legs and refused to let go. With Casey gone, Katie is now the de facto weakest Veteran, and the Rookies can’t save her again like they did in the latest episode. Here’s the thing about Katie: Yes, she’s weak, but she’s also a human being. After witnessing her team repeatedly throw her under the bus in Inferno, including Abram openly humiliating her while throwing a mission, I feel for her. I’d be honest to her about sending her off to an endgame, but I wouldn’t actually attempt to lose in order to make it happen. The only bright side is that Katie might reach critical meltdown like she did with Veronica, but that probably won’t happen.

While I’m thinking about it, here’s more stuff I’d like to happen, even though I know it’s a waste: Evan & Kenny come out as a couple; Frank succeeds in baiting CT to punch him, sending the Masshole home; Adam responds to CT pouring beer on him by kicking the Masshole in the cannoli; Jillian gets beat in the Gauntlet, killing any comparisons anybody would make between her and Sarah; and Frank and Nehemiah injure each other in the Gauntlet, taking them both out of the game.

Things that more than likely with happen: Veteran males scheme to “trim the fat” yet again; Kenny and/or CT will “quip” about how they can’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die; Brad gets defeated in the Gauntlet, making him 0-for-5 in Challenges; Diem staying with CT, making it obvious that whatever cancer she had in her ovaries has traveled to her brain and affected judgment of boyfriends (totally nonfatal . . . I’m not hoping for anybody to croak just yet); the Veterans win the Challenge, even though most of the team doesn’t deserve a single cent of prize money; and nobody – and I mean NOBODY – gets booed at the reunion or completely called on their callous actions.

There is one ending that I could live with. In teasers pimping the season, we saw Eric on the ground, obviously out of breath, in serious peril. While I don’t hate the one they call “Big Easy,” how funny would it be if he costs the Veterans their all-but-guaranteed win in the final mission? I’m ashamed to admit that the thought didn’t occur to me until I read somebody suggesting it on the forums. Really, all this talk of “trim of fat,” and nobody even considers Eric’s overt obesity as a problem? Really?!?

Two weeks ago, I said that the prospects of comeuppance and schadenfreude were good enough to keep watching Gauntlet 3. Apparently, I was wrong. Now I just want to see this crap through to the bitter end, because I’m masochistic enough to do it. And this makes Coral a more stable person than me, because when she saw nothing but assholes, bitches and scrubs in front of her, she walked away. If only I could do the same.


captain_subtext98 said...

One can always find validation for Coral-loving over at TWoP, because Coral has a legion of fans over there that will rationalize any action she takes. If she went on the show and stuck red-hot pokers into crying babies for 60 straight minutes, you could look at that forum and find a bunch of people saying stuff like, "Did you hear the beautiful notes those babies were hitting? It was like opera, honestly. I would have done the exact same thing Coral did, 100%." I'm not accusing you of it, but there are a dickload of lemmings at TWoP that will defend anything Coral does, ever.

Jason said...

I've never considered my peers on TWoP as lemmings. I figure they're like me, that those like Coral do so in varying degrees, and that there's always a breaking point when it comes to rooting for somebody. Aside from her ripping into Ace (bailing out of Bug Helmet in less than ten seconds) and Robin (mediocre performance on Semi Cross), the closest I can remember breaking with Coral was when she dated Abram, which was about three steps from bestiality.

As for breaking points for other Challengers:

Julie: went insane during Extreme Challenge, cheated in competition against Emily.

Rachel & Veronica: buddied up in clique to oust Sarah in The Gauntlet, losing up any goodwill I had after they got burned by Emily in the previous season.

Mark: Got divorced, dated Robin, essentially gave Eric Nies $60,000. Oh, and he became a correpsondant on Reality Remix, where nobody doesn't deserved to be slapped (including Lynn & Alex. ESPECIALLY Lynn & Alex).

Eric: Crammed jump rope down throats of fellow players and viewers.